Sunday, March 04, 2007

I Predict My Younger Son Will Be A Writer; Children Expressing Emotions With Writing

I predict that my younger son will be a writer. He is only six and a half years old at this point, but I feel safe in making this prediction.

I base this on a couple of different observations.

First I should say so you understand this (not to brag), that he began teaching himself to read at age three. He was a fluent reader age four. A month after his sixth birthday he tested at a fifth grade reading level. The cutest thing was when he was just five months old he’d hold a book and would babble in a different tone of voice, turn the page, and repeat. It was hilarious (I wish I had it on video). Anyway he had an internal desire to read and he was the one who initiated learning to read at a younger age than I’d have taught him.

As for writing he began making tiny scribbles before he was one year old. He could always write in the tiniest lettering. He began writing letters before he was two, on his own. At two he begged to “do school” and asked for school books to write in. I gave him a couple of workbooks and he was in his glory (Rod and Staff has some great preschool workbooks for the workbook inclined). I am not a workbook-geared homeschooling mom, for the record.

Anyway, by age four he was writing words and sentences and using invented spelling. At first he didn’t care about the spelling but then he became more aware of spelling and wanted correct spelling, he became overly self-aware of his errors and imperfections and he refused to do much writing on his own for quite a while (many months). Then he went back to writing on his own even with spelling errors, or he asked us for the spellings.

From the time this boy was four he would write when he was angry. I never taught him to do this. He would go off alone when he was angry, to cool off. That usually meant he chose to go to his room and close the door, for privacy. Sometimes he locks the door which I don’t like. Anyway, he would go off alone and on his own, he’d write out his issue and would hand me or my husband or his brother the letter and demand that we read it. At that point he sought a resolution, an apology, an explanation and a hug and a cuddle. I feel that what most people want is to be heard and to know that the other person is listening. I always listen to my children when they are expressing themselves and I acknowledge what they are saying/feeling even if I don't agree with it or if I am not giving in to their demand.

Having just sorted through a bunch of papers which I am decluttering, organizing and filing, I was reminded of all of this. You see, I have saved some of his notes. Looking back to them I see that he has been writing very serious letters to people from age four. I now realize that this is not typical for four year old’s. The way he can communicate is unbelievable. His ability to express his emotion is better than some adult’s abilities. I have very purposefully and intentionally taught my children from a young age to express their emotions verbally and to speak from the heart rather than to use words to hurt someone’s feelings to vent anger or fear. Anyway, looking back now on a bunch of these letters I am struck by my son’s ability in this area. I had not thought about it much in the past, or realized this about him to this extent.

Actually in the last month he’s written some nasty sentiments to express anger and my husband and I are again trying to teach him that it is alright to feel angry but the way to handle it is not to lash out at another person to hurt their feelings. In the past the expressions were more basic and not mean spirited.

When a person has feelings, can identify them, feels the urge to express them and chooses writing as the first choice of communication, I think that is a very good sign that the person is a writer at heart.

My challenge as a homeschooling mother is to make sure that his natural talents are built upon with education to further his growth in that area. Another goal is to not do things that will impede this natural talent from being developed (i.e. the teacher not being overly critical of his writing so that he gets afraid to write or he stops writing to prevent himself from possibly being criticized).

Well perhaps if you think I am incorrect in my prediction, maybe you think he is writing now but as his ability to communicate emotions verbally improves he’d abandon writing as his first choice. To compare, my older son has only written a letter expressing emotion perhaps once or twice and at this point he is nine and a half years old. I’ll have to wait to see how this pans out, I guess!

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